Monday, March 31, 2014

Not this year

It was first mentioned as a possibility in December. There was a job and it looked promising. There was an application and a cover letter. A follow up. Hope. A long wait.

And nothing.

The course was altered a few weeks ago. A different job would be okay. That one from December was too perfect, anyway. The transition would have been too simple. It fit too well. Those are never the jobs that you get. They're never even the one that you're interviewed for.

This plan seemed reasonable. Feasible. Real. I got a little bit carried away, thinking about how things would change and progress with the absence of deadlines and time zones. There was a guarantee of movement. Perhaps I would find myself blissfully happy. Maybe the end result would be me crumpled into a crying heap on the floor. Forward, regardless.

It seemed like a real, honest possibility.

The Coach moving back.

The light dims and the possibility recedes a little bit each day. The timing isn't quite right. The stars aren't exactly aligned.

The fantasy was nice.

I'm not sure he's ready to give up on his dreams, anyway.

And I wouldn't want him to.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Housing Crisis, Part 9

The next Saturday (which was three weeks ago), I went with my parents to look at houses.

I know, right?

But why? I don't know. Because I wanted them to get off my back. Because I wanted to see a few houses before I gave this idea up for good. Because there was one house that looked promising enough that maybe I would want to consider it.

Because I was so back and forth that I didn't even know what I wanted anymore. There were all of the tears and the resentment and the guilt and that tiny little burst of hope that I would get every time I looked at a house that was affordable and in a decent location and didn't look like it was infested with cockroaches.

I made a few appointments online. In my dad's name because I thought that, if anyone should be getting harassing phone calls and emails from real estate agents, it should be my father.

The first agent who called him back was the listing agent for that house that made my heart jump a little bit. She ended up making appointments for a few other houses nearby and, after working that morning, I met my parents and the Realtor to poke around a few houses.

It was okay. We saw two complete horrors: one was so bad that I've since nicknamed it Satan's Cottage. We saw two other houses that had potential. The house that caught my eye online was okay, but priced a little higher than I was comfortable with and located on a road that was a little busier than I really liked. There was a second house that, when I had seen it online, I immediately rejected as too small and too shabby. Turns out that it was small but not oppressively tiny, in a great little neighborhood, and it was clean but in desperate need of a kitchen update. The price was terrifically low. I crunched the numbers on the second house when I got home and it felt surprisingly manageable.

I wasn't convinced. I didn't find the process enjoyable or fun but it was educational. It was well worth a few hours on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

I didn't even cry!

And, even crazier than that: I could almost picture myself in that second tiny little house.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Housing Crisis, Part 8

The next day, my mom was at it again. This time in front of my cousin Emma and my sister, Meg.

Do you want a house? I want a shorter commute.

But you were looking at renting houses. Because I don't want to live in an apartment.

What about a condo. I will rent a condo. I don't want to own a condo.
I was on the defensive. No eye contact. Short answers. I'm not used to feeling like that around my mother.

Probably because I'm used to just going along with her plan for me. Probably because I am 31 and have basically never deviated from that plan.
Seriously. The closest I think I've ever come to doing so was when I considered going to law school for, like, 10 minutes until she quite nearly vomited when I mentioned it to her.

Then why did you get preapproved for a mortgage? Because after my father said that he would buy a house, all of a sudden there was a lender on the phone and what the fuck was I supposed to do?

Your father isn't pushing you into this. You're a big girl and you can make your own damn decisions.

I didn't agree and I didn't argue. 

I went home and cried that night, too.
I don't do pressure very well. And I hate disappointing my parents. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Weekend Continues

This week has merely been a continuation of my weekend: busy.

While I spent all of last weekend assisting Meg with her big event, this week has been spent managing my own chaos. From work to hockey to meetings and soccer games and house stuff and my first ice cream run of the year: I feel like I haven't sat down in a week.

And I feel like I haven't blogged in a month. I don't have a lot to tell you guys about, but I do have things to tell you guys about. I owe you an update on my cousin Anna's wedding. I need to get you up to speed on my house situation. We can mull over potential Derby dresses and if I should cut my hair and what kind of shoes I should buy for my trip to Brazil.  Also we should always talk about boys and nail polish.

So much nonsense to write and so little time!

I am not complaining. 

Hectic weeks go by the quickest and that's a treat when I hit this anxious, impatient stretch in the early part of the spring.

I won't be sad to see March go.

Except I will be sad to see March go because April brings a half marathon for which I've done an alarmingly small fraction of the training that I need in order to run a decent race.

Just thinking about that makes me tired.

More tired. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


I'm sitting here in my office, working while listening/occasionally watching a British Premier League soccer match on my iPad and it occurred to me that I haven't shared this particular quirk about myself.

I love watching soccer because I just love soccer. But I also love turning on a soccer game and just letting it play in the background. Something about the faint crowd noise and the referee's whistle and the British accents of the announcers is so calming. 

It is truly fortunate for my mental health that soccer games in England are often played when it is the middle of a workday here.

Confession time: anyone else have an unusual way of relaxing?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Oh, hey

I interrupt my regular rants, fears and insecurities regarding buying a house (or not buying a house) to update you on my life. I seem to recall that my life was the subject of this blog way back in the days before I fell down the hole of house hunting.

Back to my roots!

I spent my entire weekend helping Meg with a big event that she was coordinating. Every minute I was there (Friday night, half of Saturday and all day Sunday) brought me right back to the days that I was working at my old job. Conclusion: I've still got it.

I did look at a few houses, too. Spoiler alert: I am warming, slightly, to the idea of buying the right house. But only the right house.

If you didn't see it in the news over the weekend: a federal judge on Friday ruled that Michigan's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution. A few county clerks held special weekend hours to issue marriage licenses and waived the three-day wait for couples to be married and so I browsed the tweets and read the newspaper stories and cried like a baby. Love, you know? I always happy cry at weddings.

We've hit that time of the year where I am just so impatient for The Coach to come home. Enough is enough.

In the last 10 days, I've caught up on all of the movies that you all saw months ago: Saving Mr. Banks, Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave. I couldn't pick a favorite.

Lucy and I made a few more batches of macarons on Saturday evening. Well, Lucy made a few batches of macarons while Baby A and I sifted the almond flour, counted vials of food coloring and smacked measuring cups against various objects to determine what made the most satisfying thud. 

Finally: I would like to publicly apologize to the Brazilian consulate in Chicago for the hideous photo that I submitted with my visa application. But at least they know that I won't be stealing any Victoria's Secret modeling jobs from their Brazilian beauties.  

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Meg's pissed at my parents because they're hunting for houses with me. When she bought her house last spring, they left her to look at houses on her own.

For real.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Housing Crisis, Part 7

I am a horrible person and completely neglected to thank you all yesterday. All of your comments over the weekend -- and over the past month and over the almost 10 years I've been blogging -- were so thoughtful and helpful and kind. I will never get tired of hearing your perspectives and your ideas, opinions, thoughts and similar experiences. Especially on subjects that make me feel like a moron. Like this house ordeal. Or anything to do with boys.

The Friday after she and my dad got back from California, I had dinner with my mom and my cousin Emma. When we got home from dinner, Mom asked about when we were going to start looking at houses.

We can look at houses if you guys want to, I told her. But I really don't feel like I can afford a house right now.

Why do you think that? We can get you into a house for less than anything you can rent. Your dad and I, we can help. If you're looking at renting a house and not an apartment, why not just buy one? What do you pay in rent now? How much do you think you can afford?

I can't recall the exact conversation. I just remember feeling embarrassed. I recall telling her that the money would be too tight, that I didn't want a house owning one meant that I would have to spend all of my free time sitting around it because I couldn't afford to do anything else.

She asked question after question after question. I felt smaller and smaller and smaller. And worse and worse and worse. And if feeling like a huge loser at the hands of my mother wasn't enough, it was all in front of my cousin Emma, who has the biggest mouth in the whole family. I'm sure that everyone knows my business now. It was humiliating.

Because when I decided that I was going to rent, I was conceding. I was admitting that it was one more thing that I couldn't do. One more piece of the American fucking dream that I couldn't have that seemingly everyone else does. Put the house in with the husband and the babies. Not happening. Not now.

It took me a long time to get there, to be okay with that. With renting. With what was realistic.

And then my mom has to poke at it. And talk about it. And question it.

She started on me so soon after we got home after dinner that I didn't even have a chance to take my coat off. That much was helpful, actually. While normally I would stay for a while, have a cup of tea or watch a little bit of television, I left soon thereafter.

I cried most of the way home.

I cried when I wrote this.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Housing Crisis, Part 6

I should clarify that all this housing stuff started at the beginning of the year. I was just too overwhelmed to write about it. I'm in the process of catching up. Longest story ever? We're up to everything that went down about three weeks ago.

I was upset after my dad called with instructions for me to get in touch with the mortgage guy. Really upset. I felt jerked around. He pulled me off of the rental path with the promise that he was going to buy a house and then pushed me out in front of a mortgage broker. 

I called the mortgage broker anyway. I gave him all of the necessary information to get pre-approved for a mortgage. He called my office far too many times. I quietly stewed. 

It felt incredibly bratty to call my dad out. "But you said you were buying the house!" I'm 31. I have a job. My parents shouldn't be buying me a house. Even though that's what they said that they were going to do.

I wasn't sure what I should do so I did exactly what was asked of me. I gritted my teeth when my dad asked me about it. I rolled my eyes when taking yet another phone call from the mortgage guy. I told myself that it didn't hurt to find out. 

I completely stopped looking at houses -- to rent or to buy. I had a lot of really awful commutes to and from work. I wanted to move. Minus all of the bullshit. I wanted to move, like, that week. In the awful cold. It didn't matter. As long as I was moved. As long as the process, and all of my anxiety about the process, was over. 

Mercifully, Mom and Dad were in California the next week. The mortgage guy was off of my back. I stayed at their house with the dog and I relished the short commute. If I didn't know it before, I was sure of it by the end of that week: moving closer to work would really improve my quality of life.

Moving was the right thing to do. I got that much right. And I didn't think of it much beyond that. I didn't shop for houses to buy. I didn't browse for houses to rent. I took a break, I took a deep breath, I baked a lot and I commuted very little. It was a lovely respite from the aggravation.

Then my parents came back from vacation.

And it was my mother's turn to be annoying.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

My mom threw a little birthday party for my grandpa today. It wasn't much, compared to some of the parties that my mom hosts. It was just my parents, my uncle, me and my grandparents. We had dinner and opened presents, chatted and watched the dogs bound around the living room. We ate cake. 

Grandpa was served the first slice of cake, as it is considered bad luck in our family to give the first slice of cake to anyone other than the guest of honor. He was sitting in one of the bar stool chairs at the kitchen counter and he wasn't shy about digging in.

With all of us crowded around the counter, enjoying the angel food cake that my grandma made, Grandpa spoke up. I'm not sure if someone mentioned wishes or if his mind was on wishes because he had just blown out the candles on his 81st birthday cake. Whatever the reason, he shared one.    

"You know what I wish? I wish that I could have another party that is as happy as this one."

It was one of those moments when your heart feels so full that it seems like it's about to burst out of your chest.

It was one of those moments that you live for. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Housing Crisis, part 5

When we last left off with this endless tale, I had decided that I was going to rent. My parents knew, I started looking at rentals and I was at peace with that decision.

I asked my father if he would look at a few houses with me one weekend and he agreed. As it turned out, both appointments fell through. As I am telling my father this, he interrupts me with "I think I should just buy you a house. I talked about it with your mother and she agrees."

Um, okay.

"Well, if that's what you want to do," I told my dad. "But that means it's your problem, too, if I relocate or something."

That was how renting got pushed aside once again. I stop looking for rentals and find myself back  looking at houses. To find a house that I would be making the mortgage payment on but won't really own. Weird.

It just feels like the whole thing is going to take forever and I just want to move out of Liz's house. I had made a decision on how I was going to go about achieving my goal of moving out of Liz's house. And suddenly I find myself practically back to where I started. Why is this so difficult?

But who in their right mind complains about the inconvenience of having a house purchased for them? I kept my mouth shut.

My dad called me one afternoon later that same week. "I need you to get in touch with so-and-so," he says, giving me the name and number of his mortgage broker. "You need to get him some information so we can get you a mortgage."


I blinked back tears and told him I would call the guy later.

Apparently the choice to buy a house was being made for me.

It didn't feel very good. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spitting Mad

Guess who called Lucy last night?

Colleen's mom.


Colleen's mom called because Colleen and the baby are home from the hospital and Colleen is a disaster.

Not Lucy's problem.


Colleen's always had bad anxiety and depression. Her mom, too. Neither of them have any boundaries, hence the phone call to Colleen's former closest friend who she hasn't talked to in two years. Since Lucy had her first baby and Colleen couldn't bother to stop by or check in to see how new motherhood was treating Lucy.

Funny that Colleen popping out a kid seems like a big thing. A big thing that might require some support. When Lucy's own first kid was absolutely beyond what Colleen could wrap around her selfish mind. Funny that Colleen's new friends (or her new husband or her new in-laws) aren't capable of providing her what Lucy can.

I am so angry that Colleen's mom thinks that Lucy can or Lucy will sweep in and rescue Colleen. How dare she attempt to use Lucy like that.

Lucy is incredibly empathetic. She's a social worker. It is who she is. She told Colleen's mom that she was reluctant to get involved because it's been two years since they've talked. She told Colleen's mom that she would send her a text message. I'm glad that she's setting boundaries.

I hope that this is it. I hope that this is all. Lucy can and will make her own decisions, but I sincerely hope she doesn't get sucked back in. Lucy deserves so much more than a friend who only wants her in her life when it's convenient for her. And that's exactly who Colleen is. She ignored Lucy when Baby A was born. She didn't hear from Colleen for over three months, until Colleen needed a friend to accompany her wedding dress shopping. That's not a friend.

And Lucy is the very definition of friend.

I just want the best for her. Providing free social work under the guise of a friendship just can't be the best.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What wasn't the best day

Longtime readers might remember my former friend Colleen.

For the newer readers, Colleen was a good friend to Lucy and I for years until she wasn't a good friend anymore. It's been two years and there are still times where I miss her friendship. I am over it except on the days when I'm not.

Today I'm not over it. She had her first baby last night and today I'm just sad. As I was sad on the weekend of Colleen's wedding. There is nothing to be done to save our friendship but it still feels awful. Because the days that Lucy had her boys were the best days and, had things not turned out the way that they had, yesterday would have felt like the best day, too.

When Colleen got married, Lucy and I made a hideous (but hilarious) cake and got drunk at a trashy bar in the middle of nowhere and called it a celebration.

On Friday, with her boys in daycare and my board meeting behind me, we're spending our afternoon lunching and day drinking.

Because this feels weird. And day drinking is always a good idea.   

Monday, March 10, 2014

Odds & Ends

About the gym: yesterday, because I was beginning to panic about my upcoming half-marathon, I ran eight strangely pleasant miles on the treadmill. I'm paying for it today. I still went to the gym on my lunch hour, but it was merely in search of some relief in the jacuzzi. Which was closed. I settled for the steam room, which wasn't really settling at all because I am obsessed with the steam room.

About Baby A: on Friday, Lucy was trying to send Chet a video of Baby A saying "shabbat shalom!" Instead, it went something like this. "Mama. Auntie. Auntie. Auntie. Auntie!" So Lucy sent it to me instead and my heart shattered into one million pieces.

About my weekend: I didn't work for even a minute and it was great. My mom hurt my feelings (I'll write more about that later) and that wasn't great. I went to a friend's daughter's birthday party. I did a lot of shopping with my mom and my sister. I caught up on a lot of stuff I needed to catch up on. I finished a book. I painted my nails. 

About shopping: I bought clothes suitable for spring and I can't wait until the weather gets in synch with the new additions to my wardrobe. Because, after this very outfit-limiting winter, I want to start all of my thick sweaters and tights on fire.

About spam: I don't know if any other bloggers have been inundated with spam comments lately but, for me, the number of spam comments that I receive has absolutely exploded in the last few weeks. I am keeping word verification on for the time being -- I know that it's a pain but my only other option is to disallow anonymous comments and that sucks more.  

About Brazil: in exactly 100 days, Meg and I leave for our trip to Brazil for the World Cup.   

About The Coach: The hardest part of his season (for me and for him) is over. He's nearly done for the year, though he won't be all wrapped up and back here for another couple of months. I sent him paczki -- Polish donuts -- for Fat Tuesday because it made me happy. It made him happy, too.

About the Kentucky Derby: it looks like Lucy and I may be making a return trip. I hope that this year's Derby trip features less rain and more alcohol. 

About Tim Horton's: I am having a very high success rate in this year's Roll Up the Rim and I believe that it is a sign of good things to come.    

Friday, March 07, 2014

There must be some mistake

I am officially at that age where I am not sure of my actual age and am completely unable to determine the length of time that had passed between significant life events.

As a matter of fact, this may be a result of a clerical error. I'm pretty sure it's been a respectable 4 years since graduation.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Hockey Aunt

Meg's hockey team was playing in a big deal tournament this weekend. It's an annual tournament; the host site changes yearly. This year, it happened to be fairly close to home.

Unlike her usual games, which tend to be later in the evenings, she had daytime games during the tournament. Which meant that I could finally bring Baby A to a game.

Baby A caught a few minutes of hockey on television a couple of months ago and was enthralled. He started smacking around toys with his toy rake. Until his best auntie (that would be me) hooked him up with a hockey stick. Shortly thereafter, Lucy mentioned bringing him to see a little bit of hockey in person.

We finally made it happen on Sunday afternoon.

I had gone to Meg's game on Saturday night and, when I was there, it occurred to me that Baby A was going to lose his shit when he saw the Zamboni on the ice. The kid loves tractors and construction equipment. A big machine is a big machine, am I right?

Lucy spent the morning showing Baby A pictures of Zamboni machines to fire him up for the main event.
I suggested that Lucy show up about halfway through the game. There was no way that Baby A was going to last through a whole game and, if we timed it right, he could see a little bit of hockey and two resurfaces.

We timed it right.

And, I must say, he was diggin' it. He liked the hockey. He liked the Zamboni. He liked the soft pretzel and the popcorn.
I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said by someone with, but: it's so fun watching that boy experience new things. And it's doubly fun when he's experiencing something that you love.

Lucy texted me the next morning to tell me that Baby A woke up demanding hockey and the "ice tractor."

Programming: complete.

Skating's next!

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

On Friday

Last week, I was dogsitting at my mom and dad's house. My parents were in California; I was joyfully commuting six minutes to work every day. 

On Friday morning at 5:51, the phone rings. As I'm grabbing the phone, I see the caller ID. It's my grandma's house. Cue the panic.

It's my grandpa. He's looking for my mom. At this point, I've already shot right out of bed. Grandpa tells me that Grandma has a "really high body temperature." He tells me that he knows that a high temperature is not something to "mess around with" and he thinks he needs to bring her somewhere.

I tell him that I'll call my mom (an advanced practice nurse) and come right over.

I call my dad's phone first. No answer. I call my mom's phone next. No answer. At this point, I am PISSED. They didn't leave me any hotel information. It's 3:00 am in California. Those irresponsible assholes. I continue to get ready.

My mom calls back maybe two minutes later. I take back the part where I call them irresponsible assholes.

She tells me to grab a thermometer, how high Grandma's temperature needs to be to justify a trip to the ER. She tells me where I should bring her if she does need to go in. I tell her I'll call back in a few minutes.

I call my grandpa to tell him that I'll be right over. He tells me that Grandma already has an appointment with her doctor later that morning. Do I think there's someone at the doctor's office yet? Hell no, but I tell him that he's welcome to try in the meantime. I figure it gives him something to do.

Somehow I manage to:
-change out of my pajama pants
-feed the dog and let her out
-talk to my mom
-find a thermometer
and get over to their house within 15 minutes of his initial call.

I get to the house and it's pretty clear that my grandma is sick but she isn't critically ill. I wake her up to give her Tylenol and take her temperature and make her drink some water; she just sounds like she has a rotten cold. I call to my mom again. I let my grandpa talk to my mom for a while. I do all of the dishes and have a cup of coffee, chatting with my Grandpa while he eats his oatmeal. I stayed at the house until Grandma got up and I was relatively sure that everything was okay.

Grandpa was just scared. He's definitely starting to suffer from some dementia but, honestly, that wasn't why he called on Friday. He wasn't confused. He was scared.  This was more because never in his life has he ever, ever needed/wanted to care for someone else. He was like a new parent whose baby had their first fever. He didn't know what the hell to do. 

My mom kept instructing me "tell Grandpa that he did the right thing by calling." Because my grandma was pissed that he woke me up. Because obviously it is better if he calls, even if it's only for false alarms.

Thankfully, my parents live very close to my grandparents. My grandma turned 80 on Friday and Grandpa turns 81 this month; they're only going to need more help. My grandparents have always been so active and resilient. It breaks my heart. But I was so happy to help on Friday, even the only productive thing that happened as a result of my 5:51 wake-up call was doing the dishes.

Monday, March 03, 2014

A busy weekend (of baking)

I was dogitting for Mom and Dad and didn't have anything better to do before watching Grey's Anatomy. Plus I knew that Meg, my sister, would be around over the weekend and would be scavenging for treats.   

Friday: Vanilla Layer Cake and Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Meg and I took Grandma out for her birthday. When we got home, we surprised her with a cake that I probably should have taken out of the oven five minutes sooner.

Saturday: French Macarons

Lucy and I have been itching to try our hand at macarons for a while now and we finally found the time (when her boys were both asleep) to give it a whirl. Macarons are so intimidating and everything I read on them all but guaranteed that we would fail miserably but our results weren't terrible. We didn't want to invest too much time in what we assumed would be a disaster, so we didn't bother with fancy colors or fillings. It will be fun to experiment with those once we figure out how to smooth out the tops.  

Sunday: I remembered that I have a gym membership in addition to approximately 17 sports bras. 

I didn't make it back until today but, heavens, it felt good to sweat out a bit of that sugar.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Gratitude: February

And then it was March.

Plenty to be grateful for in February but you'll notice that I did not list the weather. 
  • To have a sister and therefore a logical person to list as my beneficiary on all of those documents where you list a beneficiary.
  • A pension that will be vested in less than three years.
  • eos Lip Balm.
  • Sweet brown dogs who dance with joy when you get home at the end of the day. 
  • Successful attempts at new recipes (in February, I pulled off a peach raspberry pie, Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad with Broccoli, Chicken Power Bowls and Knock You Naked Brownies).
  • Technology.
  • Great songs enjoyed on repeat.
  • Free shipping.
  • Police officers who will let you off with a verbal warning. 
  • Being close and able to help my grandparents. 
  • Good hair days.
  • Lights at the end of very long tunnels.
  • Conclusions of very long seasons.
  • An influx of spam comments on the blog; they're terribly annoying but have given me a good reason to click through and reread a lot of really old posts. (Housekeeping note: I turned on word verification temporarily. Sorry! I know it's a pain but these spam comments are out of hand.) 
  • Hot showers.
  • Olympic figure skating. 
  • Roll Up the Rim at Tim Horton's.  
  • The resiliency of baked goods packed up in a box and mailed across the country.
  • Getting paid to shop for books.
  • Space heaters.
  • Every day we get closer to springtime.
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